Former vice president Mike Pence said he takes “full responsibility” for the presence of documents with classification markings at his Carmel, Indiana home that were turned over to the FBI earlier this month.
Speaking at an event at Florida International University, Mr Pence said the documents “should not have been in my personal residence”.
“Mistakes were made, and I take full responsibility, and I've directed my counsel to work with the National Archive,s with the Department of Justice, and with the Congress to fully cooperate in any investigation,” he said. “Our national security depends on the proper handling of classified and sensitive materials, and I know that when errors are made, it's important that they be resolved swiftly and disclosed”.
Mr Pence added that his “only hope” is that the American people see that he and his attorneys “acted above politics and put the national interest first”.
The FBI and the Justice Department’s National Security Division has launched an investigation into how the documents landed in Mr Pence’s home. Mr Pence’s lawyer told CNN that the FBI requested to pick up the documents marked classified that evening, to which he agreed. FBI agents at the field office in Indianapolis recovered the documents from his home.
Mr Pence’s representative Greg Jacob wrote to the National Archives that a “small number of documents bearing classified markings” were inadvertently transferred and boxed to his Indiana home.
The revelations come as President Joe Biden faces criticism for having classified documents from his time as Barack Obama’s vice president at his office at the Penn Biden Center at the University of Pennsylvania and his home in Wilmington, Delaware. More documents were found at Mr Biden’s home in Delaware during the weekend amid a detailed search of his home.
Mr Biden’s personal attorney said the president offered “full access to the President’s home” and “personally handwritten notes, files, papers, binders, memorabilia, to-do lists, schedules, and reminders going back decades,” though the search was not publicised “in accordance with its standard procedures.”
That news, in turn, came after the FBI executed a search warrant at Mr Trump’s home at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach to recover documents from his presidency.
Republicans have sought to draw a comparison between Mr Trump and Mr Biden, saying that the FBI unduly searched Mr Trump’s home while it has not done the same for Mr Biden. House Republicans have requested visitor logs of Mr Biden’s home in Wilmington, even though no such logs exist.
In response, Attorney General Merrick Garland appointed special counsel Robert Hur to oversee the investigation into classified documents at Mr Biden’s home and office.
Asked about the discovery of documents with classified markings at the home of Mr Biden’s successor as vice president, White House Karine Jean-Pierre demurred, citing the White House’s desire not to comment on ongoing investigations. She instead referred questions to the Department of Justice and the White House Counsel’s office.